New AFL rules allow clubs to leave a vacant spot on their list and sign players in the pre-season supplementary selection period, and after months of planning, Richmond jumped at the opportunity to bring Stack on board.
“The new rules opening up gave us great flexibility to say, ‘Hey, we can try before we buy’ in a sense,” Richmond recruiting manager Matt Clarke said.
“We were on the front foot early which he was really happy with, and his manager as well, to get him over and train.
“We had some really good advice from the WA talent guys as well around what that would look like if he did come over — where he would live, who he would live with and all those types of things — so we had a plan in place pretty quickly and set it in motion as quick as we could.”
Stack was one of the most exciting junior talents heading into the 2018 draft. However, despite making the 2018 U18 All Australian team and performing strongly in the 2018 National Carnival for Western Australia, Stack was overlooked but soon found himself at Richmond as a 2018-19 Pre-Season Supplemental selection.
When speaking on the Road to the Draft podcast, Clarke revealed that Richmond had been tracking Stack since he was 16 years old. The Tigers assumed that Stack would slip through both drafts last November, sending their plan into action.
“Sydney had some challenges in his life growing up. His talent was always there, there was no questioning that, and obviously we can see that now, it was just whether his commitment to football outside the football environment was at the level required,” Clarke said.
“He’d made some mistakes along the way.
“It was just a matter of finding the balance for him of actually saying … can I stay committed to football, and they were probably the doubts we had and other clubs obviously had those as well.
“Getting to the draft we had a plan that if he had got through, and our information was that he was likely to get through the national draft, not sure about the rookie draft, but we’d made some contact with his manager between both those drafts, on the night and the day after, that if that did occur he could come and train under the new rules, so we were happy to leave a spot open and go that way.
“As we got to the rookie draft once again our information was that he was going to get through and we’d offer him a lifeline to come over and train just to see how committed he was to the program.”
Immediately impressing, Stack has gone on to be a key player for Richmond this season and become the second favourite to win the Rising Star Award following his nomination after his strong performance in round 11.